Passengers And Character Motivation

By on August 2, 2017

Note: If you haven’t watched the movie, Passengers, please don’t read this post. It WILL contain spoilers!


On Sunday, the Dear Wonderful Hubby and I finally watched Passengers, the space travel movie with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s a beautiful movie. There are some gorgeous views of space. And I enjoyed the premise – A passenger on a 120-year-long voyage to a distant planet wakes up from his hibernation pod 90 years too soon. What does he do? The action was solid, the pacing was great, and there were explosions (which I always enjoy).

Chris Pratt’s character, Jim, does some heroic things. He also does some romantic things. He’s NO romance hero, however, and that is the one thing that bothers me about this movie.

Why isn’t he a romance hero?

Jim wakes his future love interest simply because he’s lonely.

He doesn’t know Jennifer Lawrence’s character Aurora. At all. He doesn’t know why she is undertaking the voyage or what her goals are. He doesn’t know if she sexually likes men. She has no skills that might help him return to his hibernation pod or, heck, survive at all in space.

There are over five thousand passengers on board. I’m certain there are engineers on the passenger list. He didn’t wake any of those folks. He didn’t even look over the manifest. For all he knows, one of the passengers on board helped design the hibernation pods. That passenger could have been super hot also. Women CAN be attractive AND intelligent. <--extreme sarcasm Jim simply sees Aurora, thinks she’s pretty, listens to her interview, and decides to wake her up, dooming her to a life spent with him alone. Yep, he forces that harsh future on a complete stranger merely because she’s good looking, not caring about her feelings or desires. Stronger motivation would have made this action much more romance hero worthy. How to do that? Make the heroine more than arm candy. Have Aurora work for the space travel company. Jim doesn’t know she is merely an accountant when he wakes her but she DID overhear some things that will eventually help both of them. Or Make her skilled with technology. Want that fancy coffee? She can hack the system and get it for him. Or Have her be okay with solitude. She has lived for years in isolation. Unbeknownst to Jim, that was because she was infamous on Earth, hounded by the media, and she hopes to move to the new planet and be able to mix with people again, but he thinks she can be happy on her own (the movie shows us the opposite – Aurora was extremely social before her trip). Or Give her a connection to the problem. Her family owns the space travel company so she shares a bit of the blame for the malfunction. Or Give Jim any one of gazillion other motivations for his action that could explain why he targeted her to wake up. But the writers didn’t do this. Aurora being pretty was enough for them. It wouldn’t have been enough for a romance reader or writer. We expect more.

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